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Forum of Young Professionals 2019: A participant’s recap

What happens when you take 36 young professionals, representing 25 different countries, cultures, ways of thinking and behaviours and bring them together for nearly three days of intense collaboration, mentorship, ideation, and inspiration? Magic.

I had the great honour of being one of the 36 selected (and the only North American to boot!) to take part in ICCA’s Forum for Young Professionals, which took place in conjunction with IBTM World in Barcelona.

The theme of this year’s program was: The Future is Yours- It’s Time to Break the Rules.

We were all given the assignment of bringing in a two minute pitch to present the first day (unbeknownst to us- six times as we presented consecutively to groups of six!) regarding a challenge that the industry is facing, or will face in the future, that we felt would be beneficial for the group to deep dive into.

From there, WE were the creators of the content, supported by two facilitators and a diverse group of mentors. Based on the pitches, we each voted on two subjects of interest and then over the program’s duration we did the majority of the following twice: broke into groups, brainstormed, presented our initial ideas to everyone during a five minute presentation, re-joined our groups to figure out what would be the next steps to make this a reality, and then present these findings.

On the very last day, we took these questions to the IBTM World show floor to see how our industry peers would answer them and to check how the stakeholders of the industry already prepare for the future. After which, we presented these findings to everyone. Then we shook hands, graduated, and the program was finished.

Does that sound like a whirlwind? Well, it most certainly was.

In those nearly three days, bonds were formed, a family of young professionals created, mentors who have already given invaluable advice, and memories of an amazing program during the infancy of our professional careers.

Do you know a rising up and comer with 1-3 years of industry experience, under 30 and full of promise? If so, please support them and urge them to apply. We want them to be part of our growing family. The future of this industry depends upon the fusion of mentor’s wisdom and relationships with youthful optimism and fresh perspectives. Here’s to the future, the new ideas, and the industry’s evolution currently being created and acted upon. The stage is set, the players are present; we are now ready to act.

PS I am currently writing this whilst on my first European train ride and in the distance,  there are wind turbines. If that isn’t fitting, I do not know what is.


A special thanks goes out to this year’s moderators and mentors:

Ivo Franschitz, ENITED Business Events 

Henrik von Arnold, ENITED Business Events 

Guy Bigwood, Global Sustainable Index | GuBi Consulting

Aileen Crawford, Glasgow Convention Bureau

Ben Goedegebuure, Maritz Travel/Experience Inc.

Thorben Grosser, EventMobi

Gwladys Guillory, Alzheimer Europe

Isabelle Lechtman, Stockholmsmässan Exhibition & Congress Centre

Miguel Neves,

Hugo Slimbrouck, Ovation Global DMC



About Jillian: Originally from New York, Jillian Cardinal now calls Montreal her home, working with the fantastic Canadian company, JPdL. She accomplished two of the goals she set for herself upon entering the industry to be achieved during her 20s: ICCA’s Forum for Young Professionals and PCMA’s 20 in their Twenties (class of 2020!). She is also founder of The Eventprofs Book Club (for more information: